Puri Jagannath Temple is one of the most famous and revered temples in Hindu culture. It is located at Puri in Odisha. It is part of the sacred Char Dham Yatra that a Hindu must make during his lifetime. The temple is one of the most sacred Vaishnavite Pilgrimage sites.
The temple is in dedication to Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. Further, it has four areas – The Vimana (Sanctum), The Jagamohan (the Porch), Natamandir (Audience hall) and the Bhogamandap. The Vimana was once popular as the tallest structure in ancient India. On the walls, several murals depict the life of Lord Krishna.
What is the history of Puri Jagannath Temple?
As per the history of Puri Jagannath Temple, the copper plates discovered belonging to the Ganga Dynasty indicated that the ruler of Kalinga Anantavarman Chodaganga Dev initiated the construction of the Puri Jagannath Temple. In 1174E, the King Ananga Bhima Dev built the puri jagannath temple in its present form.
According to a story, king Indradyumna of the Malwa plateau had a dream that one can see Lord Vishnu in his true form in Utkala (ancient name of Odisha).
He appointed a person named Vidyapati to search for this form. Vidyapati came upon the tribal community and found out about the worshiping of the Nila Madhava and married the daughter of the chief of the tribal. The tribals showed him the way to the place housing the Nila Madhava.
Vidyapati informed the king about the place of worship but when the King went there by himself, the Nila Madhava disappeared. Lord Vishnu, taking pity, issued a divine message to him that he should go to the shores of Puri and create the image of Lord Jagannath from a log of wood that will be floating on the waves.
Lord Vishnu appeared as a carpenter and asked to leave him undisturbed for 21 days in a room so that he could prepare the image. However, on the insistence of the Queen, the room was opened early and only the unfinished images of the three gods and the Sudarsana Chakra were present.
What is the significance of Puri Jagannath temple?
The significance of Puri Jagannath Temple is that unlike idols located in other parts of the country, which are usually made of stone or metal, the idol of Lord Jagannath is made of Wood. Beliefs also say that Goddess Mahalakshmi herself supervises cooking in the temple’s kitchen.
A ritual unique to the Puri Jagannath temple is the Nabakalebara process. The selected Neem tree is fell, cut to size and an exact replica of the original idols are made out of it. Then the old idols are buried under a place called Koili Vaikuntha.
In ancient times, the puri jagannath temple was iconic in the way that it gave equal importance to Vaisnavism (devotees of Vishnu), Saktism (devotees of Bhadra / Kali) as well as Saivism (devotees of Shiva). Lord Jagannath represents Lord Vishnu, Balabhadra is Lord Shiva while Subhadra represents Durga.
Here are the timings of Puri Jagannath Temple:
|Morning||5 AM||1 PM|
|Evening||4 PM||11:30 PM|
|Mangala Aarti||5 AM||6 AM|
The sevas and poojas of Puri Jagannath Temple are:
- Sahanamela – Pilgrims can enter the inner sanctum to have a darshan. This takes place between 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM.
- Gopala Ballava Pooja – Priests offer breakfast to the deities. They offer sweet popcorn (Khai), Coconut sweets, Ripe banana, Curd, and chipped coconuts. Then they also perform puja in a brief manner with pancha upachar only.
- Sakala Dhupa – Three pundits sit in front of the three deities and worships each one of them. Then they offer bhog. Puri Jagannath Temple Administration bears the cost of the rituals.
- Sandhya Dhupa – Aarti is takes place between 7:00 PM to 8:00 PM.
What are the festivals celebrated at Puri Jagannath Temple?
Here’s the list of festivals celebrated at Puri Jagannath Temple:
- Chandan Yatra – On Akshaya Tritiya, in the month of Vaisakha, devotees take the representative images of the God to a famous tank- Narendra Pokhari with much pomp and fare.
- Snana Yatra – This is the first time in a year when devotees take the deities out of the sanctum and place them on the Snana Vedi. Moreover, they dress Jagannath and Balabhadra like Lord Ganesha with an elephant head on top. They also bathe the idols with 108 buckets of water.
- Rath Yatra – The Rath Yatra takes place in June-July every year. Devotees take the three deities to the Gundicha temple on three individual huge and magnificent Rathas. After 9 days, they bring back the deities to the temple in the same way. The return journey is popular as Bahuda Yatra. The three chariots are Nandighosa for Jagannath, Taladhvaja for Balabhadra and Devadalana for Subhadra.
- Makara Sankranthi – This festival occurs in the Hindu month of Pausa. The day signifies the rich harvest of the agricultural produce. Prayers are given and varieties of food are also kept in front of the deities for them to bless it.
Here’s how to reach Puri Jagannath Temple:
- Air – The nearest airport is Bhubaneshwar which is 53 km away.
- Train – Puri is well connected by rail. Direct trains are operated from major cities like Kolkata, Delhi and Mumbai.
- Road – The State buses are available in plenty from stations like Bhubaneshvwar, Vizag, Konark and Chilka.
The Puri Jagannath Temple Administration maintains two guest houses by the names of Shri Gundicha Bhakta Nivas and The Nilachal Bhakta and Yatri Nivas. One can book rooms online by visiting the site.
Private 3-star and 5-star hotels are also available in plenty for the pilgrims throughout the city of Puri.
Some of the temples near Puri Jagannath Temple are:
- Sakshi Gopal Temple – The temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. Amla Navami is the main festival celebrated here. The temple is located 17 km away from the Puri Highway.
- Vimala Temple – It is located inside the temple complex. Moreover, Goddess Vimala is the consort of Jagannath and a guardian of the temple complex. Devotees also pay respect to Vimala before worship of Jagannath in the main temple. Moreover, food becomes prasad only when devotees offer it to Vimala too.
- Gundicha Temple –It is located 3 km away from the Jagannath Temple. It is the destination of the chariots during the Rath Yatra. Further, the three deities are kept here for 7 days during the Rath Yatra.